I completed 5 years with Apps Magnet on August 11, 2014. The journey so far has been absolutely awesome – the years passed so quickly, it’s hard to believe it’s been 5 years already!
The other day I was remembering “old” days, and was excited recollecting these five years of togetherness.
Today, I am taking this opportunity to share my journey with you. There are lot of personal details here that I’ve never shared, and I am not a gifted writer. At times this may sound too much “I”, but bear with me as I pour my heart out!
My “mantra” has been “Better Everyday” – this is something I learned in school and carry to the day.. (By the way, I and Nirav went to the same school albeit a few years apart!)
Let me give you a little background. I am from Palanpur, a hot small northern town in the state of Gujarat, India. Palanpur is famous for its diamond merchants, rich heritage and now also Pranav Mistry (of SixthSense / Samsung Galaxy Gear fame). After my studies in Palanpur and later my engineering degree, I came to Mumbai in 2009 for a job. I was young and naive, and quite clueless about the “software industry”.
My first job lasted for two days. In my hometown I once dashed on my bicycle from one end of town to the other in under 15 minutes, and in Mumbai, it’d take me 1.5 hours to get to my workplace and equal (if not more) time to get back home.
I’d met Nirav before taking up the job.. He’s married to a not-so-distant cousin of mine! And I’d done my internship with his company when they had an office in Ahmedabad. When I met him in Mumbai, he showed me the kind of work he was doing on activeCollab. He showed me the Reports module for activeCollab, and I was impressed.
So when he checked back to see how my job was going and if I could join Apps Magnet, I immediately quit the “arduous travel job” and picked up moonlighting with him instead!
Yes, those were the early days of Apps Magnet. Nirav took care of the existing web development services business during day, and we paired up at his home during nights to work on activeCollab products. During the days, I studied activeCollab, carried out my assignments, and it was the 3-4 hours in night we brainstormed, evaluated opportunities, and discuss what products we could create to solve real problems.
acGarage – Automatic update of activeCollab – was the first product on which we worked and I still remember, we released it at 5 AM after working overnight ironing out bugs and making tweaks. It was a thrilling experience that started a series of new adventures!
We built many products after that – Tickets Plus, Time Reports Plus, Assignments Plus, Communications module, Confidential Items… Every product was an opportunity to learn, a chance to contribute to the community, and to get satisfaction of building something that helped people.
All in all, I worked on 45 activeCollab products, 4 WordPress plugins, 2 Magento extensions and 50+ customization projects.
I remember that I was scared of touching a client’s server; or even responding to a query. I was always “behind the scenes”: did research, fixed issues, wrote code.. And Nirav generally took care of client interaction. I overcome that fear and started taking small steps. I started replying to questions, then started working on client customizations or fixes and then handling most of day to day work now.
Over these five years, I must have interacted with nearly 130 customers personally. Probably 1000+ on support tickets. And honestly, I’ve been blessed to work with some great people.
People like Brad & Tracy from Geodelic, Grif from Blackstone Media, Nathan Sudds from activeLabs, Maxim Mathew, Federico Soto, Abdul Karmach and many others have been phenomenal.. Each client interaction has taught me something!
Learnings went beyond technology though. I’ve learned a lot about product development, business… I’ve expanded in all areas of life.. (Ok, I’ve even put on weight, but let’s skip that bit for now!)
When I started, I was shy and timid. Today, I am free to share. I’d give a lot of credit for this to Landmark Education too though. This non-linear education really helped a lot. I did the complete curriculum – Forum, Advanced Course, Self Expression and Leadership Program, and even Being Extra Ordinary Seminar… It’s always given me a push forward.
Especially with teams. It was only me and Nirav in Apps Magnet initially. Then a small team of 4 people. But with Store Apps and Putler teams together, we were 15 people and all that I learned in books, seminars and observing others became extremely valuable. I took on all new things as opportunities – leading sprint meetings, taking tech sessions for the team, solving problems for others… And it’s been greatly fulfilling…
Together, we’ve celebrated Diwali, Christmas, birthdays, outings, many special days, and not to forget the so many “Fun Fridays“. (A Fun Friday is an evening of fun and games – competitive at most times, extremely enjoyable, and at times we give a hard time to the coordinator, but always memorable!)
There were obviously “not-fun” times. The toughest times for me were when we were transitioning to activeCollab 3. We were porting all our activeCollab 2 products to activeCollab 3. That involved a lot of work since we have a large portfolio of products. New activeCollab versions were coming out frequently, and there were a ton of compatibility issues. Customers would complain if a new release broke their activeCollab. Our days went fixing problems, learning new tricks, supporting clients, and then also working on migration. It took almost a year for things to stabilize and gave us all a hard time!
If I look at the positives, there is always an opportunity to learn in tough times.
Our joint activeCollab 3 Bootcamp Webinar with Nathan Sudds, Guy Cortesi, Willem Nieuwboer was very well received. Customers also embraced our migrated products and thankfully activeCollab 4 was not a major shift from activeCollab 3! We even automated a lot of processes and worked on better planning our release cycles. We put up compatibility charts, stayed in communication with the community and kept working hard.
And I also started learning WordPress and development outside activeCollab world! The main reason for this was the hackathons we organized though. I took on creating “Hack Battles” in the organization and in little over a year, we’ve done 5 successful Hack Battles. We’ve worked on 25+ products during these hack battles, and over 10 from these have already made it to public. Our new ventures like Icegram, Klawoo, Putler connectors and new Store Apps products were all born in these hacking competitions!
Another battle that I conquered is getting married! (Ok, not exactly a battle, and if I were to believe others, a marriage becomes a battle after few years, but it’s just been a year to my marriage!) I married Mittal last year and we’ve had a beautiful year!
Just last month, I and Nirav ran a 10 kilometer race together. Completing 10k within the cut-off limit for a marathon was a major victory, because the only practice I had was 3 days of light running during previous week – where I did more walking then running. Completing 10k taught me the importance of perseverance. And I’m now pushing colleagues to run with me!
In retrospect, these five years gave me lots of opportunities, challenges and breakthroughs. We learnt together, we laughed together and we toiled together.
I am thankful to Nirav for his continuous support and leadership. To my family for their stand and love. To my colleagues who are always supportive and have created a great culture to produce breakthrough results. To my friends who contributed to my overall development and partied with me!
And I am thankful to all customers who put their faith in us, worked with my limitations and showered their compliments.
I continue walking towards “better everyday”.
With love & respect,